“Sorry,” she said, but she didn’t sound terribly repentant.
Ignoring me, she started shoving stuff back into the closet. I could have helped her, I suppose, but I wasn’t feeling all that helpful.
“Are you all right?” I asked grudgingly.
Kimber rubbed her reddened cheek. “I’m fine,” she said with a rueful smile. “I should know better than to mouth off to someone like her.
“I guess we’re going to have to find you somewhere else to stay,” she continued, still cramming things into any available space. “Grace could come by for another surprise inspection, and I don’t want to assume we’ll get lucky twice.”
“I’ve already got a place to stay,” I said. “With my father.”
Kimber frowned at me. “You mean you will have a place to stay, when he gets out of jail. I checked on his status while you were hiding in the bathroom. He’s scheduled to come up before the Council tomorrow. But at least for today, he’s still locked up.”
I stifled a curse. My heart sank as I began to realize how thoroughly my life sucked right now. I was on my own, without a penny to my name or even a change of clothes, in a country so foreign there should be a new word for it, and with nowhere to go. I wanted to go home. Who would have thought it would come to this within two days of my setting foot in Avalon?
“I have to get out of Avalon,” I said, talking more to myself than to Kimber. Grace had said I wouldn’t be safe even outside of Avalon, but I wasn’t so sure. My mom and I had gotten really good at relocating over the years, and because she was always trying to make sure my dad couldn’t find us, we’d learned how to move without leaving a trail. Sure, I wanted to meet my dad and all, but not if it meant staying here and dodging Aunt Grace and Spriggans and who knew what other nightmares might come out of the woodwork.
“It sounds good in theory,” Kimber said, closing the closet door and turning to me with a look of sympathy on her face. “But your aunt Grace is captain of the border patrol, and you know she’ll have the Gates on high alert looking for you. Even if you could get through immigration without a passport.”
“But I’m an American citizen,” I whined. “They can’t keep me here against my will.” Maybe I could put in a call to the U.S. Embassy in London and they could get me out of here.
Kimber put her hands on my shoulders, giving them a firm squeeze. “You’re a Faeriewalker. The government of Avalon won’t give a damn if keeping you here against your will causes some kind of international incident. You’d be considered worth the fallout.”
Great. Just great. I was trapped in Avalon, my aunt was hunting me, my dad was in jail, and the only people who seemed to be on my side were a pair of Fae teenagers I barely knew.
Kimber gave my shoulders another squeeze before she let go. “It’ll be all right. Between Ethan and me, I’m sure we can keep you safe until your father is free.”
“Thanks,” I said, my throat tightening. She and Ethan were by far the best thing that had happened to me since I’d set foot in Avalon. If it weren’t for them, I’d still be locked up in Aunt Grace’s cell—or worse. “I’m really glad you guys came for me last night.”
Kimber smiled at me, but there was something strangely sad about the expression. “We’ll have to lay low during the day, but tonight when it’s dark, we’ll get you out of here to somewhere safer.”
“Safer like the cave last night?” I mumbled, but though I was sure Kimber heard me, she didn’t respond.
“Grace probably has someone watching my apartment and Ethan’s, so you have to stay inside and stay away from windows.”
Sounded like a fun day. “If I’m going to skulk around in the shadows waiting for nightfall,” I said, “then I want to spend some time getting a crash course in magic. What it can do, how it works, stuff like that. I’m just about clueless.”
She didn’t look happy about the idea. “Ethan’s the magic expert in the family,” she said.
I shrugged. “I’m not asking you to show me magic. I’m asking you to tell me about it. You can do that, can’t you?”
She sighed. “Fine. But I could use another hot posset first.”
I could get used to drinking hot possets, I decided as I took a sip from my steaming mug. My mom had tried making me warm milk a couple of times when I was a kid and couldn’t sleep, but it had been totally gag-worthy. This was sooo much better.
At my insistence, Kimber had used a lot less whiskey this time, though she’d poured some extra into her own mug.
“Do your parents know you put whiskey in your posset?” I asked.
Kimber sniffed in what looked like disdain. “They wouldn’t care if they did.”
She made sure to stay between me and the living room window as we retreated into her bedroom, where the heavy curtains would guarantee no one saw me. She sat on the edge of her bed, and I sat on a comfy chair tucked into a corner under a floor lamp. On the table by the chair sat a textbook that looked like it weighed about eight tons, and a dog-eared, yellowed paperback. I was nosy enough to peek at the titles. The textbook was Calculus of a Single Variable: Early Transcendental Functions, and the paperback was … The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which I remembered reading when I was about eight. I blinked and looked back and forth between the two books and Kimber. Her cheeks turned a delicate shade of pink.